Nostalgia, Reality, Change and Growth - Whew!
(Get comfortable ... This is a long one :)
So Cheryl's post from the other day (and the conversation we had on the phone Saturday night) has got me thinking - a lot. And I can't stop. So instead of having it all continue to just do donuts inside my head I thought I'd put it in black and white - a release of sorts.
We talked about how people change; how people from our collective past aren't the same as they used to be; how sometimes people change for the better and sometimes not; how it's hard to sometimes accept people after they have changed, especially when they mean so much to us and we miss the "old" relationship as it used to be . . .
So first of all, I think that there's a difference between change and growth. Semantics maybe, but worthy of note. I think that change is inevitable. We all change whether it is intentional, whether it is a positive or negative change - human beings by nature are not static. Therefore, change is frequent and we are always adapting whether the change happens to us directly or to those around us.
Yet, I think growth is more rare. Growth represents something positive - the plant growing in the direction of the sun - the human soul opening up and taking in the light in order to thrive. I think that through the experiences I've had and the choices I've made I have grown. Not without struggle, mind you, and not necessarily on a regular basis or without regression - but I like the person I am becoming now much more than the person I was 10 years ago and a little more than the person I was five years ago.
Ten years ago I was lost, I was confused and in my state of uncertainty and insecurity I made some hard decisions and some pretty "interesting" choices. I mingled with some questionable people and rebellion was my main focus. But in my exhaustion to be something I wasn't, I realized that I was lonely; I was trying to make myself believe that I was happy and carefree; I was trying to convince myself that this was the life I had chosen and therefore the life I wanted to lead. And yet I was lonelier than I ever had been in my entire life.
That's when I started to grow. I nurtured my wilted spirit; I read A LOT; I began to write again; I opened up my heart and began to listen to it and the answer it gave me was to accept myself, to love who I am and that that love would bring the right people into my life if I would just trust it . . . Not too long after that I asked out the man who would become my husband :)
I am still growing. I've been a little stagnant over the last few years - busy taking care of the basic needs and survival of two small children who were completely dependent upon me, getting little sleep and not much "spare" time for personal, spiritual growth. But my boys are growing now and it's given me the time to do the same. My spirit has been revived and once again I have found a great light source in reading and writing.
But not all change is good. Sometimes we make poor choices, we treat the people that we love often the worst and we take advantage of our most treasured friends because ... well, just because; because we are reacting to a change that we don't know how to handle. And so we tell ourselves that we're OK. We tell ourselves that we're happy and that we're in control of the situation. We tell ourselves that everyone else is wrong in advising us to slow down or to take a step back and think - We recognize we're different now and put it on everyone else to adjust to our change. And they will, won't they, if they truly love us?
But that's where nostalgia comes in. Change isn't just hard to deal with on a personal level, it's sometimes a hard adjustment to make for those who love us - especially if that change seems to cause more harm than good in their eyes. They may be right. They may be wrong. But the hardest part is accepting someone after they have changed.
We treasure our relationships; they are what we live for and when a relationship changes, suddenly we become stressed, angry and lonely. We mourn for the relationship we once had. We yearn for the safety and security of the past, the comfort level, the familiarity; for the person we once knew.
But we can never go back. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and yet it is also misleading. We do not remember things as they actually happened - we recall them, and the people within the memories, in the context of our own personal story - the history we have put together for ourselves. There are no facts in such a history, but interpretations which include embellishments and omissions.
So when we are faced with a new and sudden reality we find ourselves wishing for the "good times" to return, for the "old friend" we once knew to come back . . . and yet those memories never really existed.
Then what do we do? We can only accept people as they are. We must accept what they present to us today and believe them when they tell us that this is who they are now - no matter how much it contradicts our memories of them. We must learn to adapt in whatever way is best for ourselves so that we may continue to grow and not become stagnant, lying in wait for the past to return; because no matter how much we wish and hope and pray for it's reappearance - the past is gone and so are the people as we remember them.
Therefore do not try and mold your truth based upon what others may say or do in reaction to you. Do not alter your truth as a reaction to what others say or do to you. Live your truth and let yourself grow.